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When Life Hands You Snow, Make a Snowman (and Help Your Neighbors)

By Linda Fippin, President of the Board of Trustees

Let me say up front that I am not a snow-friendly person. As I frequently say to anyone within earshot who is wistfully reminiscing about sledding and snowman-building when they were kids, “I prefer to look at pictures of snow.” But I suspect a few grumpy words were said about snow this past week by many in our congregation.

If you were fortunate enough to have a warm house and food in the fridge and freezer and nowhere crucial to go and something other than a “no work equals no pay” job, the snowy and icebound streets might have offered a welcome respite from a sometimes too busy life – a chance to relax and read, catch up on your favorite series on Netflix, spend time with your kids or enjoy an afternoon nap or sitting by a window with a cup of tea enjoying the wintry landscape. But there are many among us who don’t have those buffers to the hardships brought about by snow and ice that render them housebound. Pipes freeze, important medical appointments and treatments are missed, fridges and pantries start to look bare, and bank accounts do, too.

Even more vulnerable to the hardships of the weather are those who are unhoused. I sometimes think about the soldiers during the Revolutionary or Civil Wars who may have had at best only a thin tent and sometimes shabby clothing to protect them during the frigid winter months. Many of the unhoused in our area have no better shelter than those poor soldiers. Fortunately, some churches as well as some non-profit and governmental agencies opened warming centers for people who are unhoused or poorly-housed. Lives were surely saved by these warming centers, which also provided food and other necessities. Westside’s own Mary Frances Milligan started fund-raising on our Facebook page and was able to collect over $1000, which she used to purchase food and supplies on behalf of Westside for one of the warming centers. Kudos to Mary Frances and to those who donated to the fund!

The haul of items that Mary Frances was able to purchase.

Kudos also to Jerry and Alice Thornton, who braved the icy streets to walk to the church to make sure the faucets were dripping to protect the pipes from freezing, and also to Brad Kurtz and Dave Goforth, who placed thermometers in the attic that they could monitor remotely and be alerted if temperatures were getting dangerously low. Thanks to their efforts, Westside made it through those coldest nights with no broken pipes!

As I write today, the temperature has just reached 50 degrees, icicles are gone and snow is on the verge of slipping off the pitched roofs of the houses in my subdivision. The streets are now slushy rather than icy, but still probably slick and no fun to drive on, especially for us snow sissies. By the end of the week, the snow will be gone, replaced by rain, and already starting to fade in our memories. But we should endeavor not to forget so that the next time bitter weather is on the horizon we can be prepared in advance to help our neighbors.

There is still time to make a snowman if you are so inclined, but the window is closing fast.

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